Don Schwartz Spotlight on Documentaries

Welcome to the Blog of actor/journalist/personal historian Don Schwartz.

Don has been published in a variety of publications since 1977. His book, Telling Their Own Stories: Conversations with Documentary Filmmakers, is available from Amazon in softback or Kindle edition.

Don holds multiple degrees, including a Ph.D. in psychology and counseling from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Don is a regular guest on our web radio show, The Art of Film Funding, produced by From the Heart Productions, reviewing documentary films with founder Carole Dean—

Don also contributes film reviews and filmmaker profiles to CineSource Magazine online—

His weekly film review appears in The Marin Post

Don’s actor resumé, voice samples, and reel may be found at:

You can access Don’s Personal Historian services at:

You can find, and Like Don’s official Facebook page at

Banksy Does New York

HBO’s Banksy Does New York  is yet another shameless attempt to exploit the phenomenon of ‘Banksy,’ a faux character created by a small group of artisans and their enablers. Given the success of the first major film about this composite character called ‘Banksy’ (Exit Through the Gift Shop), and given the media might banksy-new-york-5_Fotor ...Read More

Emperor of Hemp  

Produced in 1999, and narrated by the ubiquitous Peter Coyote, Emperor of Hemp is a tightly focused portrait and biography of marijuana and hemp crusader Jack Herer whose early life was as a patriotic Vietnam veteran and businessman who deplored the emerging ‘counter culture’ – especially its anti-war/anti-government expressions and use of drugs. IM00...Read More


 “Trumble,” I heard Bette say when I asked if she had any new documentaries. As of this writing Bette is the owner of Larkspur's Bette’s Flicks, one of an extremely rare species of brick-and-mortar video stores. dalton-trumbo“Wasn’t he the guy who did the special effects for ‘2001’?” I queried, excited to see such a film. “No,” she sai

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The Judge and The General

As I’ve written more than once, if a documentary – or a narrative – effectively tells just one story, it is successful. Produced by a San Francisco Bay Area team, The Judge and The General tells many stories. The two primary ones are Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 ascension to power in the South American nation of Chile, judge_and_the_general-01 ...Read More

Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders

MEDECINES SANS FRONTIERES (MSF), Doctors Without Borders, is headquartered in Paris, France. The organization provides emergency medical needs to ‘populations in distress.’ It provides treatment to ten million people annually – out of a global population of more than 2 billion who have no access to LIVING-articleLargeessential medical services. Ther

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K2: Siren of the Himalayas

K2: Siren of the Himalayas tells two stories of K2. One is about a 2009 team attempting to ascend what is regarded as the most dangerous mountain to ascend to the summit. 59o5NIn addition to pursuing their avocation, this group is also celebrating and honoring the hundredth anniversary of the first expedition to attempt the K2 summit lead by the Duke of Abruzzi. This is the film

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A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt

Chocolate covered scallops; espuma of calf brains and foie gras; and beer and truffle soup are just three of hundreds—if not thousands—of dishes created by celebrity chef Paul Liebrandt over his decades-long career. Inspired by Liebrandt's avant garde dishes and roller-coaster story, first time feature director Sally Rowe serves up A Matter of Taste, her homage to the Master Chef. ...Read More

Alive Inside: The Power of Music

Alive Inside tells the story of Dan Cohen’s discovery that when people suffering from age-related memory loss – my preferred term for the various kinds of ways we lose memory – are given iPods with headphones playing musics from their past, they come alive. AliveCohen’s story arc is one of struggling to make available iPods and headphones for every resident in every nursing home in

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An Apology to Elephants: The Abuse and Rescue of Elephants

An Apology to Elephants is yet another demonstration of the visceral power of film. In thirty-nine short minutes we are struck with images and stories of our abuse, torture, and exploitation of elephants. We are also informed – or reminded – about the many virtuous qualities these intelligent beings possess and manifest, virtues that only serve to amplify the horrors of our treatment of them. ...Read More

Anita: Speaking Truth to Power

Produced, written, and directed by Frieda Mock, Anita: Speaking Truth to Power tells the story of African American Anita Hill who, in the fall of 1991, at a United States Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as a member of the United States Supreme Court, testified against that Anitaconfirmation on the basis of her experience of being sexually har

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